A rash of high value bike thefts is still plaguing the Mid Ulster district, local police have warned, with criminals now hacking fitness apps to track cycle routes and the homes of bike owners.
Some brazen thieves are even striking during the day in the Mid Ulster area, but most incidents have occurred during the night, with the bikes stolen from homes, out-buildings and vehicles, said the PSNI.
Police have advised householders to be vigilant to unfamiliar vehicles in their street or housing development.
“Report anything you think appears suspicious and give us a description of persons and/or the registration of the vehicle”, said Dungannon and South Tyrone police through a social media post. “We’re happy to do the checks. The vast majority of times there will be an simple enough explanation but we would much prefer that than something going unreported.”
Police also posted a list of security tips for bike owners.
“Strava, mapmyrun and similar fitness apps are great for tracking your cycle routes and runs but are you aware most people don’t take much notice of their security settings? As a result they are publishing their routes including their home and place of work on the internet. Great to show the world how fit you are but thieves actively use this information to target homes and places of work.
“If you must publicly publish data then make sure to set up a privacy zone on the app.
“Putting pictures of your bikes and gear on forums or social media? Do you realise if taken on a phone, most photographs contain the time, date and exact location - including a map, of where the photo was taken? By doing so you are leaving a treasure map for thieves.
“Do you use a bike rack on your car with your expensive bikes on display? Again thieves know what they are looking for. Be aware and don’t leave everything parked outside your house on display for hours on end, including the empty bike rack!
“Secure your shed/garage/home properly against easy access and take additional measures to chain the bike up where it is stored inside. Use a proper heavy duty chain and lock from a local bike store or hardware shop and not with the ‘three padlocks for a pound’ type.
“Additional measures like CCTV, recording serial numbers, BikeRegister and electronic barcoding should be considered.
“And finally, make sure its insured! Share the tips and help make it more difficult for thieves, a few minutes could save you thousands of pounds.”